All Patterns can be found at Ravelry.com
Etsy abounds in cool stuff that you just won’t find anywhere else. Instead of spending hours in line Thanksgiving night into Black Friday, why not sit back on your couch and cruise through the thousands of shops on Etsy selling unique handmade items? Some of my favorites (and on my wish list – Santa, please take note) include the following: As a mixed media artist myself, I’m fond of seeing everyday objects repurposed into wonderful, fabulous items. Roger Hiles of England’s Kwerki repurposes all kinds of things, but one of my favorites are the shoes. Guaranteed, you won’t find these shoes at DSW or Payless.
(Image courtesy of Kwerki on Etsy) This particular listing shows a pair of superhero theme high heels that he has for sale in his shop. However, he will decoupage an old pair of your shoes to create a unique look for a special occasion.
I’ve been following Matthew Hoffman’s shop MaterialWhirlCollage for almost a year and I marvel at his creations. Matthew creates collages from magazine and other illustrations which can be transformed into a card or a frameable work of art. This piece is just one of the many fabulous creations he sells – and I am proud to say that I own several of them.
(Image courtesy of MaterialWhirlCollage on Etsy)
Another artist who makes art out of old things is Karen from TheImpossibleChild. Typically she takes beat up items and transforms them through paint into the artworks you see in her shop. She donates a portion of her sales to charity. Her work is vibrant, colorful, and just the thing to brighten up a dark corner. Just imagine this table somewhere in your home – I can. (Santa?)
(Image courtesy of TheImpossibleChild on Etsy)
Those who know me well know that I love kitschy things and I love things that pick up on trends. What better to satisfy those things than a zombie family Christmas ornament? And I mean kitsch as a compliment.
(Image courtesy of Peachwik on Etsy) Peachwik is a New Hampshire shop specializing in keepsake items.
Linda Chapman of BadAssWhimsey is a woman after my own heart. She and I are both fans of Monty Python and the late great panel cartoon “The Far Side.” This painting, inspired by her mother’s love of Bigfoot, epitomizes her work. Her quirkiness isn’t for everyone – it takes a truly special person to get it – and I’m glad to be the owner of two of her pieces. A true Mainiac, her shop is worth a visit.
(Image courtesy of BadassWhimsy on Etsy) Donna of WestChester, Pennsylvania is the proud owner of AnimalFancy, and it is there that you will find this adorable little cutie. Donna creates whimsical digital dioramas, basically, of animals in human positions and photographs the result. You almost believe the photograph to be a true scene they are so lifelike. This shop is definitely in my favorites.
(Image courtesy of AnimalFancy on Etsy) This barn owl pocket mirror was inspired by a visit to the Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre by the owner of SquishnChips, Orawee Bradley. I think it’s adorable and I’m not even an owl fan. The mirror comes in pink or blue and will make a great stocking stuffer for an owl lover.
(Image courtesy of SquishNChips on Etsy) The British shop DebonoandBennett is responsible for this whimsical print of a robin rocking out to tunes on its MP3 player. Their shop features several different prints that are quirky and different from what you normally find in shops selling word art. This print particularly caught my eye because of the robin’s attitude. Love it!
(Image courtesy of DebonoandBennett on Etsy) And last, but definitely not the least of my finds, is this kitschy gold gnome sold by the fantastic duo of Nashpop, based in Nashville, Tennessee. Nashpop takes statuettes and turns them into colorful, upcycled, revived items with an irreverent flair. This is one of my favorites.
There you have it. A journey through some of Etsy’s great shops and a collection of quirky items that are sure to please someone on your shopping list for the holidays. Be different from the rest – buy something you won’t find anywhere else. Lin Collette is the artist behind the wonderful pieces found at RhodyArt on Etsy. You can find her at Rhodyart.etsy.com
The holiday season can be, for some, the one time of year when the whole family is together. So why not take the opportunity to get the camera out and take some great family shots. Even if the only photos you ever take are on your phone, here are a few general rules to make sure the moments you capture will look great. Prepare Thereâ€™s nothing worse than having the kids wait around miserably on Christmas morning waiting to open their presents while you fumble around with your camera or missing that great shot of Grandpa asleep on the sofa after Thanksgiving dinner. Avoid any mishaps by thinking ahead of what type of shots youâ€™d like to get before hand. Make sure those batteries are charged and have a couple of extra memory cards handy.
Get to know your camera So Santa brought you a new camera? Great! Now learn how to use it. Nowadays technology is so great and cameras have so many bells and whistles that finding out what each of those buttons mean can get a little confusing. Spend some time
reading through the instruction manual getting to know the basics. Ask your photography enthusiast friend for some help if you have one. Youtube has some great tutorials and you can even check out some fantastic websites such as www.digital-photography-shool.com once you’ve done that learning what “aperture” is and knowing how to set the correct white balance and ISO can make the difference between a good photo and a GREAT photo.
Compose Having your subjects in the right place can really improve your photos. Not everything has to be in the centre. Many photographers use a grid called “the rule of thirds”. Imagine a tic tac toe grip across your camera screen (some cameras actually have this built in to help you) and work with that. Another thing to think about is to check your backgrounds. Having too much going on can take the focus off your subject… and you don’t want to get the cat grooming itself in the corner of your family photo. Another thing you can try is zooming in close. Rather than being far away from your subjects, try to fill the frame.
Lighting This is where things can get a little complicated but it’s worth keeping in mind where your light is coming from. Even if your taking photos on your phone, lighting can mean a lot. If you’re shooting outdoors it’s worth taking note of where the sun is. Is it high in the sky above you, or a little lower? Having the sun behind your subject can create a really pretty halo effect. Take a few test shots to make sure you’re happy with the result. If things look a little dark, you could get a piece of white card to bounce the light onto your subjects face, or even use your flash. If you’re shooting indoors, try to make use of as much natural light as possible. Shoot near an open window if you can. I know some places in the world don’t have a great deal or natural light in the winter months so making the best of what you have can make for some really interesting effects. How about not using your flash, setting your ISO a little higher and see what you come up with. Christmas time is usually a great time to experiment with light as you have candles, and Christmas tree lights at disposal.
Practice The best way to get good at something is to practise practise practise! Learning as you go along is truly the best way to learn. Play around with different lighting, try out different settings and shoot from different angles. Sometimes you can come up with some amazing photos if you get out of your comfort zone and experiment a little. Now, go take some great holiday photos. Happy Holidays!
Stephanie Curwen is a freelance photographer and graphic designer based in Manchester, UK. You can follow her blog at www.serendipityandme.com
Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there. The children were nestled all snug in their beds, While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads. And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap, Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads. And Mamma in her “kerchief, and I in my cap Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash, Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below. When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer. With a little old driver, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St Nick. More rapid than eagles his coursers they came, And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name "Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen! To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall! Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky. So up to the house-top the coursers they flew, With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too. And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof The prancing and pawing of each little hoof. As I drew in my head, and was turning around, Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot. A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back, And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack. His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry! His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath. He had a broad face and a little round belly, That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly! He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf, And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself! A wink of his eye and a twist of his head, Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread. He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk. And laying his finger aside of his nose, And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, And away they all flew like the down of a thistle. But I heard him exclaim, â€˜ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!" Stockings at Fireplace can be found at SweetLittleThings4U on Etsy Mice in bed can be found at feltingdreams on Etsy Art doll with antler can be found at DoubleFoxStudio on Etsy Little girl in tuto photo can be found at loveshinecouture on Etsy Annabell Leigh Santa can be found at Wallstantiques on Etsy Santa and reindeer can be found at LizzieAndCoPatterns on Etsy Resin Reindeer can be found at loveforbling on Etsy
Kathy Huntington is the owner of SugarLMntnAntqs.etsy.com
The holiday season, as always, is moving up on us faster than red velvet cake settles on our butts, so nowâ€™s the perfect time to get a jumpstart on a strategy for holiday cookies and treats. Just a little bit of planning now will save time, money, and most importantly, hours of angst later.
If time constraints are too fierce, and you can work it into your budget, consider buying the cookies and treats already made. There are literally thousands of choices on etsy for holiday cookies
(Christmas Tree Sugar Cookies from Sugar Me Desserterie on Etsy)
(White Chocolate Peppermint Bark from playfulwearetc. On Etsy) ..and other holiday treats
(Candy Cane Peppermint Macrons from Indayani Baked Goods on Etsy)
Another great option is a cookie swap exchange (check out 8 Steps to Hosting a Cookie Swap on marthastewart.com). Find a group of friends, or some of the other parents in your kidâ€™s class at school, or a church group â€“ this is a wonderful way to discover some new holiday cookie recipes and vary the selection of cookies you have on hand to offer family and friends, or to give as gifts.
(Image courtesy of marthastewart.com) Baking cookies from mixes is another good way to save your valuable time, but still have a chance to enjoy a bit of holiday baking. Better Homes & Gardens has some great cookie recipes based on their mixes, including Gingerbread-Espresso Spirals, and Toffee-Coffee Brownies (find them at http://www.bhg.com/christmas/cookies).
If you have a bit more time than you do money, here’s a great basic sugar cookie recipe that you can use to make drop cookies or rolled cookies for cutters. It makes between four and five dozen cookies, depending on your generosity in interpreting the word “teaspoonfuls”. Chill it for at least an hour before making cut cookies, and keep it in the fridge for a few days if you like, or freeze it for up to three months. Decorate with colored frostings, sprinkles, small candies, glittery sugars, whatever you’re inspired to use.
Above all else, enjoy your holiday season! Cynthia Pepper is a great admirer of cookies, saving time, cookies, celebrating holidays with a maximum of joy and a minimum of stress, and cookies. Find her at her blog, [http://gypsumoon.blogspot.com/ ] or in one of her etsy shops: Gypsum Moon Vintage [ http://www.etsy.com/shop/GypsumMoonVintage ], Gypsum Moon Rocks [ http://www.etsy.com.shop/GypsumMoonRocks ], and Gypsum Moon Style [ http://www.etsy.com.shop/GypsumMoonStyle ].
Happy Holidays from ConstantlyAlice.com!